Thursday, November 18, 2010

Short Movie Reviews

Another week of 12hr days babysitting systems that don't have problems, so quite a few reviews (mostly from my DVD collection) again. Bear with me. When I get my life back it should pare down to normal levels.

Run, Lola, Run (aka Lola Rennt) is a wild, fun, thrilling, surreal romp. Lola's (Franka Potente) boyfriend Manni is a small time criminal whose boss gives him a big assignment. The deal goes fine until Manni loses the $100,000 payoff. Lola wants to keep him from doing anything stupid, and keep him from being killed, so she tries to get him the money. I won't go into it too much, but believe me, it is awesome. I bought the DVD years ago on its notoriety alone, and have never been disappointed. The English overdub is a bit cheesy sounding, but it is the visuals and the subject matter that really drive things. I prefer it with the original German language, but it is also fun to just bask in the visuals without having to read.

Netflix DVD / IMDb

Verdict: A great, great movie with an awesome soundtrack.

La Dolce Vita is probably Fellini's most famous films. Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastrianni) is a tabloid journalist who gets caught up with his subjects; first with the heiress Maddalena (Anouk Aimee) and then the Swedish/American movie star Sylvia Rank (Anita Ekberg). He soon discovers his life is escaping him and makes many changes, all arguably for the worse. It is a tremendously long film, weighing in at 180 minutes, and is very talky. There is perhaps a reason it is so famous for Anita Ekberg in the fountain; it is a long hard watch from there on, but it does have its good points. I am not one who has seen too many Fellini films, but this is not my favorite. It is enjoyable, but you have to want to dedicate the three hours to it, or just watch sections.

Netflix / IMDb

Verdict: A great, but disjointed film. For Fellini I'd recommend Amarcord instead.

The Castle of Fu Manchu stars Christopher Lee as the diabolical doctor in this Jess Franco action film. The deliciously icy Tsai Chin returns as Fu Manchu's daughter, Lin Tang, and Rosalba Neri plays the sexy yet androgynous Lisa. This time around Fu Manchu has a weather controlling machine that is somehow powered by opium. Unfortunately for Fu Manchu, his plans involves the assistance of a Dr. Herakles, who is dying. Things start getting less about the global water/opium threat, and more about the impromptu heart transplant. Also, there is not nearly enough Rosalba Neri in this one, though when she appears she makes your jaw drop (if your sexual preferences are Neri-enabled, that is).

Also, see Tenebrous Kate's review.

Netflix / IMDb

Verdict: I think I preferred The Blood of Fu Manchu, but am not certain. It is a bit cheesy, but fun.

Kentucky Fried Movie is so much fun. All spoof sketches. The parody of Enter the Dragon (A Fistful of Yen) is worth the time it takes to watch it. The trailer for Catholic High School Girls in Trouble and Cleopatra Schwartz are excellent. And the capital of Nebraska is Lincoln!

Netflix DVD / IMDb

Verdict: A favorite of mine.

Wrath of the Dragon God - while hardly terribly, it is mostly for D&D players. They get into a lot of game logic. It is fairly fun as long as you understand you are essentially watching a Sci-Fi Channel movie. Make-up and special effects are roughly those of Xena: Warrior Princess, which is not a bad thing really. Has some funny fan-service stuff, like the way the rogue is portrayed in particular.

Netflix DVD / IMDb

Verdict: Watchable, particularly for D&D players. Better than the theatrical release D&D movie.

The Dirty Pair OVA (Original Video Animation) is a favorite. I like all the Dirty Pair incarnations, but find these from the '80s to be my favorites. This collection has ten episodes of action and cheeky fun. Great old school animation similar to Star Blazers, but takes some shots at the seriousness of most sci-fi anime.

Netflix DVD / IMDb

Verdict: Very cool, even if you don't like anime.

Flash Gordon is, for my money, the best of '70s/'80s sci-fi. Keep your Star Wars and Star Trek films. Give me swords, and magic, and rocket ships, and bizarre torture... Flash Gordon rocks from start to finish, with Queen blaring, von Sydow sneering, Vultan shouting. It is way over the top, but in the best possible way.

Netflix DVD / IMDb

Verdict: Best sci-fi movie EvEr.

The Room is a film that was getting a ton of internet play about a year ago. I bought the DVD, and never watched it. It was like if I saw it I couldn't help but be disappointed. It does seem that all the reviews are spot on. This is a crazy movie. The dialogue is ├╝ber-bizarre, and the plot is out there. It is a train wreck that I could not stop watching...

Netflix DVD / IMDb

Verdict: Honestly, I don't know what to say. My go-to mistress of movies, Tenebrous Kate, says The Room is "simultaneously one of the most earnest and most sublimely stupid films I have ever seen in my life." I think I'll agree with that.

Hercules with Lou Ferrigno is a little weird. It is like someone watched Richard Donner's Superman and then Clash of the Titans and said, "Hey, I wanna do that!" It is a mish-mash of mythic traditions with a few robots and lasers thrown in for good measure. This one is different from many Hercules movies that assume you know who Hercules is; an assumption I think is fair. The movie is not great, but fun. I like Ferrigno in general, and like to see him as Hercules, as the character and former actor Steve Reeves were inspirational to him.

Netflix / IMDb

Verdict: Kind of bizarre. Campy fun.

Hercules Against the Moon Men on Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of the many Alan Steel films. The story is about a city that sacrifices children to some strange god. When Hercules comes to town he decides to stop things. Turns out the god is a creature from the moon who wants to take over the Earth with the aid of Queen Samara (the icily hot Jany Clair). The movie gets a tad hard to follow with Joel and the 'Bots talking over it, but they are generally funny in this one, however being on a bit of a Hercules kick I would rather see it without them.

Netflix / IMDb

Verdict: Pretty good.

Tombs of the Blind Dead two female friends, Virginia and Betty, meet in Lisbon. One is going camping with a male friend, Roger. Roger invites Betty to go with them. Bad idea? You bet. Virginia gets upset and leaves the train with her camping gear. She discovers an old ruin and goes to sleep. Guess where she is? Right in the heart of undead Templar central!

Netflix / IMDb

Verdict: Pretty interesting.

Lesbian Vampire Killers is one I reviewed a while back, but decided to watch it again. Frankly, this is a funny movie. I was always worried it would be a Shaun of the Dead rip-off, but it isn't. Cheekiness aside, it is a rather good old-school vampire film.

Netflix / IMDb

Verdict: Funny. Not as dirty as it sounds. Well worth your time.

Mother of Tears is the third installment in Dario Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy (Suspiria, Inferno, MoT). I have to tell you, it starts out pretty awful. There are some really clumsy ways they get around to the crux of the story, but as a horror movie, it is pretty good. Highly gory at times, with quite a few jump out of your seat moments. Think of it, story-wise, the way you'd think of an old Kung-Fu movie; you are not there for the story, you are there for the fighting. This movie you want the horror, and you get it. Asia Argento stars, and Udo Kier is in it for a bit.

Netflix / IMDb

Verdict: I have seen worse. I liked it, despite the plot-craters and clumsy storytelling.


Retro Hound said...

We have Hercules Unchained and Hercules in the Haunted World in my library and I wondering about watching them. What do you recommend? Worth my time or not?

And I couldn't tell, did you like Flash Gordon? :) I recently posted the album cover and inner sleeve for it.

Darius Whiteplume said...

The Haunted World is kind of interesting. I have not seen Unchained yet (that's a Steve Reeves Hercules, IIRC). They can get a bit dull in places. Typically if you have seen one Herc Italian Sword & Sandal, you have seen them all ;-)

I had that on vinyl as well. I think Queen's music is remarkable on it. Very cool how they could do mood music as well as good rock songs.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I forgot, I reviewed The Haunted World last week here, it is near the bottom of the post.

Movie Reviews said...

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Chris said...

Yes "Run Lola Run" is a great thrill ride, and "Flash Gordon" is so underrated on IMDB, isn't it.

If you liked the sketch style of "Kentucky Fried Movie", I would highly recommend "Amazon Women on the Moon" (1987),an overlooked 80s comedy, which for my money had more laughs.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I have seen Amazon Women on the Moon, which is really good. The Groove Tube is similar as well, but it has been so long I forget if it was good.

Chris said...

Never heard of "The Groove Tube ", thanks ( :

Yum-Yum said...

Run, Lola, Run: Kudos for mentioning the awesome soundtrack. Love it.

Kentucky Fried Movie: I'm adding this sucker to my list.

Flash Gordon: Holy crap! Sam Jones from My Chauffeur is Flash Gordon! I'm putting this one on my list as well.

Tombs of the Blind Dead: Virginia was a fool. I mean, Betty was babe.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I had to download the Lola soundtrack after rewatching it. It's too cool.

KFM is fun. The Cleopatra Schwartz trailer is awesome.

I need to find "My Chauffeur" - all I remember are the wacky '80s clothes and Sam running naked through the park. That's worth the effort.

I was kind of partial to the gang-boss' moll. She was deliciously trashy. ;-)

Kal said...

Run Lola Run was one of the first films I ever saw at a film festival in which I had to dress up fancy for because it was that kind of an evening.

I loves me those Farigno Hercules movies in which they try to mix science fiction with mythology.

I divide my friends into two groups. Those who think Flash Gordon is a hoot and those that don't. I just can't deal with anyone who watches that movie with their nose in the air. It has everything we go to the movies for in one gigantic package of kitsch. I love it.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I am glad I fall on the right side of the Flash Gordon line :-D

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